Log in

I am soooooo happy to finally be able to announce the big, secret news that I have been sitting on for the last couple of weeks:

My new MG novel, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, has found a home!

Just under three weeks ago, I took the train to London to meet up with my fabulous agent, Molly Ker Hawn, so that we could go together to meet up with various amazing publishing teams who were interested in publishing TDwaCH. It was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I would have been truly honored to be published by any one of those teams...

...but I am so absolutely thrilled to be able to announce now that we have sold The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart in a pre-empt to Bloomsbury UK and to Bloomsbury US, for joint publication in both countries. I am so happy, I could honestly just burst. And I nearly did burst from holding in this news for the last couple of weeks!

This is the press release that Bloomsbury put out today about the deal:

"Bloomsbury Children’s Books have globally acquired world English rights for two titles by author Stephanie Burgis. The first title in a two book contract, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, is set to publish in Spring 2017.

"The deal was brokered by Molly Ker Hawn of the Bent Agency to Rebecca McNally Publishing Director for Bloomsbury Children’s Books in the UK and Sarah Shumway, Senior Editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books in the US. Bloomsbury will work across all their territories to create a global marketing and publicity campaign for The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart.

"Commenting on the deal Rebecca McNally said, 'This is an irresistible story with a brilliant protagonist, wonderful characters and a thoroughly satisfying story. It’s as delicious and enticing as mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day – it’s completely enchanting and timeless (and like all the best chocolate, it’s not too sugary).'

"Sarah Shumway added, 'This is the kind of middle grade fantasy I’ve been craving! Ingredients and tastes for chocolate may vary, but this book is heaped with the essentials: adventure, humor, clever characters, strong girls, and yes, delicious chocolate, and is sure to satisfy all kinds of readers’ desires.'

"The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is a gorgeous magical adventure for 9-12-year-olds. Aventurine is a young dragon who, after being tricked into tasting hot chocolate brewed by a food mage, is turned into a puny, blunt-toothed, wingless human girl. The only dragony bit left is her extraordinary cloak, which looks curiously like dragonskin – but on the inside, Aventurine is as tough and fiery as ever. Her fierce instincts combined with a new-found passion for chocolate lead her to seek a home among humans, and eventually take her to the Chocolate Heart, a chocolate house in need of help (and customers). But it will take all her courage, lots of chocolate and perhaps a little magic to learn to be her true self..."


If there was ever a book of my heart, this is it. I mean, honestly - chocolate and dragons! My two favorite things! ;)

But seriously...

I love this book so much. And I am so, so happy to know that I will be able to share it with you guys!

And of course I am now going to make a hot chocolate in celebration. Yay! :)

I really, really hope that you guys enjoy meeting my fierce dragon-girl heroine in Spring 2017. I can't wait.

This Week's Love List

1. Hamilton: the Musical. I discovered this through the cast recording, and WOW.

So, for context, I've always liked musicals, as a genre, without feeling a great urge to watch or listen to them all that much...except once, when I was 12, when one hit me like a lightning-bolt: The Phantom of the Opera. It was soooooo romantic! And historical! And thrilling! And oh, did I mention over-the-top romantic??? I'd never come across anything like it before. I was OBSESSED. Every single day, for months, I came home from middle school and put on the records. I had every line memorized. For my next birthday, my mom took me and my best friend to see it live at the Pantages theater in Toronto, and I was enthralled (even though I noticed, with great outrage, every single line that they had changed from the original London recorded performance). I saved up all of my babysitting money through the next year to buy another ticket and go watch it again with my younger brother.

Eventually, the obsession faded - although, come to think of it, I do wonder now whether that early love affair with Phantom might have contributed to my later academic path, studying opera? But regardless, I never had another musical hit me with that kind of titanic force...until now.

When I was 12, I listened to Phantom every single day, breathless with amazement. Hamilton is a very, very different musical from Phantom. It's sharp, scathing, explicit, and brilliant. It's very, very funny. It's deeply emotionally true. But it makes me breathless in the same way Phantom made me, at 12. It makes me feel creatively excited and inspired to do my own writing! And now, at 38, I'm listening to Hamilton every single day, just like I used to listen to Phantom all those years ago. Pretty soon, I'll have all of the lines memorized. I wish so badly that I could watch it live! But the cast recording is AMAZING. You can find it on Spotify or buy it anywhere that sells music. I LOVE it.

2. The West Wing. Yup - only 16 years after it first came out, I've finally started watching The West Wing! (I'm SO in touch. ;) ) And of course I have become completely addicted. I'm nearly at the end of the second season (I was going a lot faster before I discovered Hamilton!), and I am already considering whether I should buy the full seven-season boxed set one day rather than rely on Netflix to have it forever. I can already tell that I'll want to re-watch for all the character development and relationships. And again - SUCH good writing!

3. This one is slightly cheating - but I just discovered this chocolate mousse recipe tonight, and while I haven't had a chance to make it yet, I can't wait. Mmmm. It has been far too long since I ate chocolate mousse! (And I love chocolate EVERY week, as you guys know.)

What about you guys? What are you loving right now?

Masks and Shadows Cover Reveal

Woooot! I am so happy to be able to share the gorgeous cover for my first adult historical fantasy novel, Masks and Shadows!

Masks and Shadows is a lush, romantic, operatic novel, and I love seeing that reflected in its cover. I love this whole cover so much! I've made it the lock-screen on my cell-phone, and I have to admit, I've been turning on my cell-phone a LOT in the last couple of days just so I can revel in the cover goodness. :)

What do you guys think?

I'm sticking my list of pre-order links below this, but mostly, what I really want to say is just: isn't this a gorgeous cover? It's making me SO happy!

The trade paperback on IndieBound

The trade paperback and ebook on Amazon.com

The trade paperback and ebook on Amazon UK

The trade paperback in the UK and worldwide (free delivery) from Wordery

The trade paperback edition on The Book Depository for UK/worldwide pre-orders

And of course you can add it on Goodreads, too.

Cover! Cover! Isn't it pretty? ;)
Whew! In the last eleven days, I've come back to work with a vengeance, writing the first three and a half chapters of my new MG book, which is making me really happy. It feels SO good to be writing steadily again! Admittedly, taking those four weeks of writing-vacation this summer was, yes, undoubtedly sensible after the last year...but I am SO glad to be back to work now!

Also, in a really fun side of authoring that I haven't experienced before, I'm getting ready to go to London next week for several publishing meetings in a row, which I am ridiculously excited about. I feel so glamorous! (I know, I know. All of my London friends are rolling their eyes at that. But still! I'm actually going to wear lipstick and everything, probably! ;) And I'll get to talk to real, live adults about books instead of talking to 6- and 2-year-olds about bugs!)

Luckily, everything at home is keeping me well-grounded, from Maya-dog's horrifying infestation of Frontline-resistant fleas (augggh) to our discovery that our two-year-old must NOT be allowed to look at books in the car...not to mention our six-year-old's various entomological fascinations. (I'm sure David Attenborough's parents had to deal with plenty of that kind of thing, too!) When you're dealing with a two-year-old's violent and messy carsickness or you're down on your hands and knees in the dirt trying to help your older son find slugs and woodlice (and trying not to let yourself look grossed-out by the slugs' texture), it's very hard to get a swelled head, to say the least.

I did have an interesting realization the other day, though. It was a day when I'd had a really hard time getting my writing done, for various reasons. Once I did finally do the writing, I thought: Hey, maybe I could do a blog post about some of the things I find useful for getting the writing done on hard days, because that could be fun and possibly useful, too...but then I immediately thought, Nope. No way! I'm not an expert. What do I know? I can't stand up and give anyone advice!

And honestly, I have zero interest in setting myself up as an authority to speak from on high about almost anything. But...

There have been several moments in the past when I've had similar thoughts, always with the same conclusion. But this time, finally, I then thought: Actually, why can I not talk in public about what works for me with writing? Why don't my opinions count?

I used to think I couldn't talk authoritatively about writing because I'd only made one book sale (albeit of three books at a time, but still). Then I sold a fourth book, but still, that was all. Now I've got more exciting stuff happening with other books that I've written - and I've had over thirty short stories published in various magazines and anthologies - and if you count my freelance work (written under a pen name, which I don't own), then that adds nine more published books to my list of work...but still, I never, ever feel like I could possibly set myself up as someone who actually knows what she's doing.

And of course I still have an awful lot to learn. I definitely don't know everything about writing or publishing, to say the (laughable) least! But...it finally occurred to me the other day to ask myself: WHEN, exactly, will I decide that my opinions count for something? Because the goalposts keep on moving back in my own head.

Anyway! Don't worry - I don't plan to turn this blog into a writing-advice blog. I'm not interested in that, and I doubt you guys are, either. This blog is a place for personal hanging out, and for keeping in touch with my friends and with my wonderful readers. It's going to stay mostly focused on the chocolate I'm eating and the books I'm reading. (And this week I've been reading an ebook of Cindy Pon's Serpentine and a paper ARC of Rae Carson's Walk on Earth a Stranger, so I've been in reading bliss!)

But it was an odd moment to realize that in my head, there was really NO publishing milestone that could ever be big enough to make me act like my opinion, on writing or on publishing, really counted. And I thought I'd share that moment with you guys in case I'm not the only one who ever falls into that pattern of thought.

Now: it's time to get back to hunting down some good thick tights, in case it's cold on the day of my London trip; trying to find the sewing kit, which we haven't taken out for years; facing down the terrifying pile of unwashed dishes; and also desperately figuring out if there's anything I could make for dinner tonight that would only take ten minutes...oh, yes, the glamor is unmistakable around here.

But at least I'll wear lipstick for the London trip. So that'll cover everything, right? ;)

We're Back! (With a Helping of Good Stress)

So...we're back! We flew back to the UK last week, actually, but as I've learned since my first trip with the kids to America last year, jet lag as a childless adult is NOTHING to the experience of jetlag with two little kids who are each experiencing their own jetlag, too! Ahhh, no fun whatsoever...but as of last night, I think both kids are finally back on their UK sleep-schedule, just in time for school to start. Whew! So, now, I can (I hope) finally catch up on my sleep, too. (Knock on wood!)

It's grey and rainy here in Wales - I went through climate shock last week as I adjusted from wearing a skirt, T-shirt and sandals every day to wrapping up in thick cardigans and jeans. But the mountains are gorgeous, green and forested, rising all around our house. I can almost imagine dragons sleeping under them! And our own Maya-dog is sleeping in her bed downstairs as I type this now. All in all, it feels really good to be home...especially since I know I'll be back in America next summer. It's the right balance for our family right now.

And speaking of balancing acts...this year it looks like I'll be trying something I haven't tried for a long time, which is writing two books at once (one adult book and one MG). Please cross your fingers for me! Right now I've only written the openings of each of them, and that's as far as I've gotten, because one of them needs a ton more research before I can really settle into it, and the other one needs a lot more planning time and creative play to work out exactly the right voice and story for the heroine...but tentatively - very tentatively! - it looks like I'm going to be trying to write them both over the next year or so. We'll see! I'm nervous but excited about them both, so I don't want to drop either one of them.

It's been a funny last month in terms of writing. I had great plans to do lots and lots of writing over the summer, and I really did spend the first two weeks writing and revising with all my might to hit a freelance deadline...but then, over the last four weeks of our summer holiday, I only ended up writing down four different story openings (one short story, one Kat novella, and two novels, all of them pieces I'd like to pursue at some point) without really settling into any of them. Part of it, honestly, comes down to the fact that I'd been driving myself SO hard for so many months beforehand, filling up every free moment with my writing goals. As both Patrick and another one of my smart writer-friends pointed out, creative breaks are actually NECESSARY sometimes, not just optional, to refill the well! So there is that. The truth is, I really did need a break, and it was probably good for me as a writer to take one. (...At least inasmuch as 4 weeks full of childcare can be called "a break." But - you know what I mean!)

And then there's also the fact that, behind the scenes, a lot of publishing decisions that are going to significantly affect my career are being made right now in London and New York. So far, every single bit of news I've gotten has been amazing, and I'm really excited about all of it...but nothing's absolutely settled yet, which is why I'm not posting any of that news here. And that's a really jittery, unsettling feeling to experience, even when all the news is good! (As that same smart writer-friend pointed out in an email to me, "Good stress is still stress! It still has the same result.") So, it's been hard to settle into writing while I'm waiting for firm decisions and resolution all round.

Anyway! In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of reading. I spent all of my free time on our international plane ride reading my new hardcover copy of Aliette de Bodard's The House of Shattered Wings, which was AMAZING. It's a postapocalyptic fantasy novel for adults set in Paris, and I'd read an early draft a year or so ago, which I loved...but the final, published version just blew me away. You can read my full Goodreads review here.

And when we got to Wales, I found a copy of Felicia Day's fun, funny, and genuinely wonderful memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) waiting for me (I had won it in a giveaway), and I was genuinely shocked by just how much I loved it. (You can see my Goodreads review for that one, too!)

Tomorrow, school starts again, here in Wales. Normal life is about to begin again. And yes, I am going to dive back into being a professional writer as well as a mom again...even if it's a bit of a jittery adjustment along the way! ;)

What about you guys? What are your favorite reads from this summer? And if you had big goals at the beginning of the summer, like I did...did yours get amended, too? Or did you cheer your way to the end? I'd love to know!

Last Week, Family Love, and a Call for Votes

It's our last week in America. Wahhh! But it's been a really good week so far. Yesterday morning I got to meet up with an old friend in the park where we both played as kids, and we shared a picnic with all of our children. The day before yesterday, I celebrated a whole bunch of really wonderful professional news (which I hope to be able to share here sometime in the next few months!) by eating ice cream with my family, then going out to dinner with my oldest friend at a really great Mexican restaurant. We sat in an outdoor booth on the rooftop while sparrows flew around the tables, and talked about everything.

And oh, thank goodness, I finally got some new author photos, with a LOT of family help. Can I say just how grateful I've been for all of my wonderful sisters-in-law over the years? My last author photos were taken by my sister-in-law Gail (a former professional photographer, now anthropologist), back in Leeds six years ago, and she went make-up shopping with me first, loaned me her straightening iron for my hair, and generally talked me through the whole process of getting ready for a professional photo.

This time, it was even more of a full family process, because my mom (an amazing photographer who has had photos on magazine covers) took the photos for me, and my sister-in-law Jenn not only went make-up shopping with me to help me pick out what I needed (and loaned me her straightening iron! thank goodness my sisters-in-law are all more prepared than I am), but also finally put on my eyeshadow for me when I gave up, since I am totally clueless in the whole cosmetics department.

99% of the time, I go without makeup and feel good about it. But every so often, I really want to wear it, and I am so glad to have fabulous, supportive women in my life who are willing to step in and help me when I need it! And oh, is the whole process of photo-taking so much more fun when I'm hanging out with people I love and laughing through the process. I tend to get really self-conscious about having photos taken, but getting them taken with Mom and Jenn was just perfect.

If you read this before the end of August 19th, I'll still be trying to narrow down my choices - I need to send two photos to the publishers of my upcoming adult novel, and I'm trying to decide among three finalists:




If you have any opinions, voting is not only allowed, it is hugely encouraged! I would love any help, and people are already voting over on my Facebook page. (But if you read this after the 19th, I will have already sent off the photos, so it'll be too late.)

Right now, I'm figuring out the stories of two different novels, in different genres, that I want to write...I'm trying desperately to read as many library books as I can before I have to return them all in the next few days...and I'm trying to fit in as much hanging out with old friends and family as I possibly can, while knowing that it will never feel like enough.

But I'm so glad to be here!

Awful Realizations and New Favorites

I've reached that awful stage that comes after the midpoint of every trip, where I realize that there is NO WAY to meet up with everyone I want to see while I'm here, to read all the library books I want to read*, to go all the places I want to go...oh well! I'm still having a great time, and it's gotten a whole lot better since Toddler X has started (knock on wood!) sleeping through the night again. (Oh, did we have a bad couple of weeks with that beforehand...)

Here's this week's latest library find, Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper, a YA fantasy novel which is making me really happy so far:

I'm absolutely loving the voice, and the magic and the characters and the (gorgeously evoked) setting all work together just wonderfully. It's so much fun!

I've also been reading my way through Ursula Vernon's wonderful Dragonbreath series with my six-year-old, who LOVES those books! Hugely recommended for any 6- to 8-year-olds you know - and they're fun for adults, too! We've read the first 7 (out of 11) in the last couple of weeks and can't wait to get the last 4. They're silly and funny and clever and joyous and can certainly be read out of order. My personal favorite so far is Book 4, Lair of the Bat Monster, and my personal least favorite is Book 2, Attack of the Ninja Frogs, but honestly, they're all fun, and my 6-year-old loves them ALL.

I also started reading Ursula Vernon's Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew this morning, and I LOVED the opening - but then I forced myself to stop and set it aside so that I can read it with my six-year-old, who will certainly love it, too. And since Vernon's MG book for older kids, Castle Hangnail, is one of my very favorite MG fantasies of the last few years, I think we can officially say that she has become a favorite author in this household! :)

What about you guys? Have you discovered any new favorite authors in the past year?
*Yes, this is a serious issue! And it's not just for fun, either. Since, at the moment, I'm primarily publishing my books in North America, it's really important to me to keep up with new American books in my genres, and I can't afford to buy them all (or even most of them). So, taking this opportunity, every year, to read as many as possible at my wonderful hometown library is REALLY vital! (But it's really fun, too.)

PS: You can leave comments here or on my website blog.


Cookies and Books

Another quiet, lovely week over here. I've been taking my kids to the swimming pool, the park and the library, eating wonderful chocolate chip cookies made by my dad, and of course doing my writing. I sent off my latest freelance audition on Monday - please wish me luck! - and since then, I haven't had any deadlines to worry about. I've been doing steady writing anyway, of course, but I haven't pushed myself too hard when it comes to hitting high wordcounts at speed.

Yesterday, I had a really delicious breakfast out (French toast with strawberry-infused cream cheese! Mmmm!) with one of my oldest friends and we got to have our first non-Skyped bookclub meeting in ages. Our unanimous conclusion was that Nicole Burstein's Othergirl is really fun and gets the dynamics of high school friendships just right!

Next, we're going to be reading Cherie Priest's I am Princess X, which looks fabulous.

Have any of you guys read it yet? I picked up my copy late yesterday morning, and I can't wait to dive in as soon as I finish the book I'm reading right now, Ilona Andrews's Magic Shifts, which is really fun so far. I bounced off the first book in this series, but then someone recommended I try starting again with Book 3, Magic Strikes, and that REALLY worked for me. I've been a huge fan of the series ever since!

I also just finished one of my favorite birthday presents, Elizabeth Hand's creepy, atmospheric fantasy novel (for adults) Wylding Hall. If you like gothic novels, British folk-rock, or just fantasy that feels genuinely magical, you should really try it out. Elizabeth Hand has been one of the fantasy authors I've most admired for about 20 years now, but this turned out to be by far my very favorite novel she's ever written.

What about you guys? Do you have any reading recommendations this week?

Quick note: I finally set up a blog on my temporary website, hooray! So if you're not a LiveJournal user, you'll probably find it easier to comment on the entry over there.


Reading happiness

So, our first week back in my hometown was somewhat disrupted by a horrible feverish Death Cold, but now that the fever's over, this has gone back to being a really nice visit. The kids have been visiting with the local wildlife:

(Photo by MrD!)

I've made it back to the wonderful local library:

AND I made my first visit of the year to my hometown independent bookstore, which is one of my favorite bookstores in the world:

I also fell head over heels in love with a new book, Megan Frazer Blakemore's The Friendship Riddle, which has an awesomely geeky MG heroine (with whom, yes, I did identify a LOT), wonderful characters, and a really fun, absorbing story. You can read my full, gushing Goodreads review here, but the takeaway is: this is one of my favorite books of the year so far, in any genre. Read it! :)

What about you guys? What have you been reading lately?


Coming Home

On Monday morning, Patrick, MrD, Toddler X and I all piled into a taxi that drove us from the front door of our house in Wales to the departures gate at London's Heathrow airport (since we made one of the best discoveries ever this year: hiring a taxi to the airport, shockingly, actually costs exactly the same amount as buying train tickets, but with no time spent dragging heavy suitcases around various connecting train stations in the middle!), and about 14 hours later, we finally landed in America. A few hours after that, we were home.

As my brother Ben drove us into town, turning down those familiar, tree-lined streets, I felt myself finally, finally relax for the first time in days. I've lived in a lot of places, and I've also loved a lot of them - I love where we live now! - but there's something about coming back to my hometown that makes my whole body resonate with the message: HOME. I am really, really happy to be here.

And as you can see, of course my beloved hometown library was one of my first stops! :)


Surprising no one, I absolutely adored Hark! A Vagrant. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much over any comics, and I have been forcing Patrick to read more and more of them, because I HAVE to share! I'm recommending it to just about everyone I know, and I definitely want to get a copy to keep one day.

Also, on a totally different note, I'm really enjoying The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which I just started. I'm about four chapters in, and so far it's dreamy, beautifully-written, romantic gothic fiction (which I'm guessing will turn pretty creepy by the end), which I picked up on Susanna Kearsley's recommendation. So far, I'm really glad I did!

Of course, this isn't really a holiday for me and Patrick, though, since deadlines and work don't disappear even for freelancers over the kids' long summer holidays. Today it was time for me to get back to work after taking the first couple of days to rest and recover and hang out with the kids. So I got back to Very Serious Work today by getting started on a (very cool) freelance project with a tight deadline, setting myself an important word count and high targets...

...but I got to do my writing while sitting across a table from Patrick (who had his own goals/deadlines) in the coffee shop closest to my parents' house, which I've loved for over twenty years now, and once I'd hit my targets for the day, I came home to snuggle with my two little boys in my childhood bed and play with my brother's puppy.

So, really. It is awfully nice to be home. :)

Latest Month

October 2015



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Taylor Savvy